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singularity (sing-gyuh-LAR-i-tee) noun

1. Something that is distinctive, unusual, or remarkable.

2. A unique quality.

3. Mathematics: A point at which a complex function is undefined, one where no derivative exists but the neighborhood of which contains point where the derivative exists. Also known as a singular point.

4. Astrophysics: A point or region where gravitation forces cause space and time to be infinitely distorted and matter to be infinitely compressed -- the state of matter falling into a black hole.

[From Late Latin singularitas.]

"His earliest biographers presented him as the isolated genius and a singularity has clung to his status ever since." Frances Spalding, Book Review / A Grey Dandy: Whistler While He Worked, Independent (London), Nov 8, 1994.

"Before we conclude this section, we still have to address the question of singularities, which are critical for every marching algorithm. In our context, we have to deal with two types of singularities: those of the surfaces to be marched and those of their intersection." Stefan Freitag & Karsten Opitz, Enhancements in Blending Algorithms, Hewlett-Packard Journal, Oct 1, 1995.

This week's theme: words from math.


Language is not neutral. It is not merely a vehicle which carries ideas. It is itself a shaper of ideas. -Dale Spender, writer (1943- )

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